Five plead guilty after immigrant stash house discovery on Houston's south side

Immigration officials are working to sort things out after more than 100 people were found in a house on Houston's south side
April 16, 2014 1:46:41 PM PDT
Five men who were arrested after authorities discovered 115 illegal immigrants in a Houston stash house last month have pleaded guilty to federal charges.

Jose Aviles-Villa, 34, Jonathan Solorzano-Tavila, 28, Antonio Barruquet-Hildeberta, 40, Jose Cesmas-Borja, 22, and Eugenio Sesmas-Borja, 20, were arrested March 19 after authorities raided the stash house on the city's south side. All five men were charged with conspiracy to harbor and transport illegal aliens and use of a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence, and on Wednesday, they all pleaded guilty to both counts.

Federal authorities say the men admitted they were part of a smuggling operation and were keeping the illegal immigrants in stash houses while they waited for payment.

Authorities say the men took all of the immigrants' possessions and in threatened to shoot them if they tried to escape. In one instance, the convicts told asked a mother to pay an addition $13,000 or her daughter and grandchildren would "disappear."

Sentencing has been set for July 30. Each man faces up to 10 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine for the conspiracy conviction as well as a mandatory minimum of five years for using a firearm which must be served consecutively to any other prison term imposed.

They will all remain in custody pending that hearing.

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